July Is Busting Out All Over

Starting to, anyway. By which I mean that the first oca flowers of the season are here - on 09081, one of the seedlings I raised from from plant 0908. It does sometimes feel like a bit of a merry-go-round, hence my scrap-salvage adaptation of the old song title from Carousel, a musical whose plot still perplexes me. I'm dizzied by trying to manage the ever-expanding oca brood and everything else that life demands. Or, switch that rotating axis from vertical to horizontal and you have another take on it - an oca treadmill. Enough free association already - let's get back to the matter in hand.

The parent 0908 produced a good yield of tubers (about 240 grams after frost wastage, according to my records and the tubers were a reasonable size). It was a big and vigorous plant, with a short styled flower.

Looking at the flower of 09081 more closely, I do feel a little confused; it doesn't seem to conform to the three morph theory of oca flowers. The anthers and styles appear to be clustered together, more or less, at the top, without the usual segregation into distinct whorls. So has oca pulled a flanker yet again, after my strenuous efforts to understand floral inheritance in this wild child of the Andes? According to my CIP descriptors and the handy illustration contained therein, it most resembles number 4, the semi-homostylous form, a slight variation on the theme of the bog standard mid-styled morph. At least I think it does.
09081 has inherited neither the same floral morph, nor the same axillary markings as its parent - below, on the left is 0908, with 09081 on the right. I wonder what other characteristics have/haven't been inherited by the daughter plant?

There are others not far behind in this floral dance. It will soon be time to get out there and assist in pollination duties. Here's a view along the bed. There are considerable differences in both vigour and habit of growth between individuals, which although not obvious in this shot, can be seen as you walk along the rows.

And here's a sneak preview of within-plot diversity, including some self-sown Amphicarpaea bracteata plants twining around the bamboo canes. Differences between the ocas can be seen quite clearly.

The mild and humid weather has encouraged the growth of many plants, but, right on cue, blight has appeared on the purple potatoes. Drat, drat and double drat. Don't think I can realistically hope for any outdoor tomatoes this year.

No blight on the ocas, but I did find this fella munching through one of the oca seedlings. Most likely it's the caterpillar of an angle shades moth, Plogophora meticulosa, a generalist feeder found on a wide range of host plants. I'd prefer it to indulge its catholic tastes elsewhere and leave my ocas alone. Result? A maiden flight before metamorphosis into a nearby patch of mixed vegetation.


IAP said…
Okay, so a fourth flower form. Variety is the spice of life, and you need some spice while you work the treadmill.
Re pests, a couple of my plants were attacked by blackfly this spring, but they moved on to more succulent fare before they did any serious damage.
The variation in vigour between some of my varieties is extreme. In fact one slacker is going to have to be transplanted as its neighbour is about to smother it.
Your regimented planting layout is the way to go when crossing is the aim. By contrast, at this time of year my polyculture beds are very effective at hiding widely dispersed little yellow flowers, let alone oca seed pods, should any ever occur. My compensation is the co-planted crops, including tomatoes - no blight here yet in the drier South East - I think there has only been one Smith Period so far this year here, and that was early in June.
I feel like a rank amateur with only 3 oca plants. Still, that's 3 more than anyone else on out allotment site!
Mark said…
The garden looks awesome. The Oca-empire expands. I hope you get lots of tubers this season.
Rhizowen said…
Ian - I'm sure oca has a few more surprises to spring on us yet. As you say, the variation in vigour between varieties is very noticeable. Good luck with your TOS quest.

Veg Heaven - 3 plants, but how many varieties? If they flower, have a look at which stylar morph you've got. I can foresee a day when an internet oca dating agency exists and lonely oca plants can be paired up with suitable partners.

Thanks Mark
We've just had a bout of very heavy rain and high winds, but the ocas are still looking good.